The Australian Financial Review Business Summit, presented by BHP
Australia’s premier business forum, The Australian Financial Review Business Summit, presented by BHP returns on 5 & 6 of March 2019 at Hilton Sydney.
The Australian Financial Review argued last year that business needed to re-establish its legitimacy as the risk takers, growth makers and wealth creators to help generate the prosperity that most Australians demand.
A decade after the global financial crisis, we urged all concerned to grasp the opportunity of growth. Despite an upswing in the global economy and local job market, Australia's place in the world has been further challenged by Donald Trump's populist trade war, by China's growing disruption of the international power balance and by intensifying technological change.
After delivering more than a quarter century of uninterrupted economic expansion, Australian business confronts a loss of public trust that is being funnelled through a dysfunctional political system. After a royal commission exposed disturbing misconduct in banking, insurance and wealth management, company boards have been charged with failing to properly oversee management.
Politicians are waving "big sticks" at the companies they also need to invest in less expensive, more reliable and cleaner energy supplies. The purpose of "capitalism" seems to be up for grabs as the political system fragments and polarises.
Some query whether companies are really owned by their shareholders, and argue that customers, employees, suppliers and "the community" rank as equal stakeholders.
Australian companies are under pressure to reflect rapidly changing social norms, such as represented by the #MeToo movement. Yet boards and management are under pressure from investor activists to focus more sharply on extracting more value for shareholders - who these days, are often workers through their superannuation savings. These workers now count on Australian businesses competing more sharply in global industries.
With a federal election looming, business needs to get onto the front foot in defining its basic purpose and defending the role of risk capital in driving economic growth, creating wealth and spreading opportunity.
The Financial Review's fourth Business Summit will bring together Australia's highest-level gathering of international and Australian corporate, political and other thought leaders to focus on how business can drive the next phase of growth and prosperity. As part of the Summit, a special business forum will debate a growth agenda for the looming election.